Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Dr. John O. Asein has charged the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) to partner with heads of copyright offices in Africa to strengthen the copyright system and ensure that authors get adequate returns on their intellectual investments.
The Director-General made the call while receiving the Secretary-General of PAWA, Dr. Wale Okediran, who paid a courtesy visit to the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja recently.
Commending the NCC on the recent enactment of the Copyright Bill by the National Assembly, the PAWA Secretary-General expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Government and assured that the association would support any action that would improve the lot of writers in Africa. He observed that the constraints of copyright infringements, piracy and plagiarism were hindering writers from pursuing their writing careers successfully.
While calling for prompt action in granting assent to the Bill, Dr. Okediran noted that the new Bill has made Nigeria a good rallying point in the African region to enthrone strong copyright laws for protection of the rights of authors and right owners. “It is a catalyst for PAWA to engage more with African Governments and Copyright Offices in Africa as we have been in the vanguard of ensuring strong copyright laws in Africa”, he stated. He reaffirmed PAWA’s commitment in partnering with the Commission to ensure that the Bill would be used as a model for other African countries.
Speaking in the light of the new Copyright Bill, Dr. Asein thanked all stakeholders who contributed to the copyright reform project that culminated in the Bill and hoped that “the Nigerian experience would benefit other African countries who are also in the process of modernising their copyright system”.
He noted that the new bill, when assented to, would bring a lot of relief to authors, considering the provisions for stiffer sanctions for piracy, the ease of handling online infringements and the flexibilities allowing for learning materials in accessible formats for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired persons and persons who are otherwise print disabled.
Dr. Asein further enjoined PAWA and the relevant associations in the literary sector to encourage their members to use their literary prowess to draw attention to the ills of piracy and other copyright abuses in order to bring about attitudinal change in society and a healthy copyright culture.
Assuring of NCC’s commitment to better protection of the rights of authors, Dr. Asein added that the Commission recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to ensure that only legitimate books and other copyright materials were sold in the nation’s airports and their environs.
Vincent A. Oyefeso
Director, Public Affairs